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When Citizens’ Grievances Entered the Policy Agenda, 1963-1969

Quand les doléances des citoyens ont commencé à façonner la politique publique, 1963-1969
Joana Etchart

Abstracts

This article analyses how citizens’ grievances entered the policy agenda in the years mounting to 1969 in Northern Ireland. At that critical juncture, a disparate group composed of individuals, organisations and members of the Opposition in the Parliament of Northern Ireland were pushing for comprehensive reforms in the field of civil rights. Their efforts contributed to bringing the question of citizens’ grievances into the realm of public policy, to the extent that a robust reform package was envisaged from 1968, which then went under the heading of community relations in 1969. But the close analysis of that shift also reveals strong resistance to reforms. This was evident in the mechanism consisting in seeking to contain the policy problem within the realm of fate, by invoking change in people’s conduct rather than in public action. Not only did this deny the causal responsibility of executive and legislative authorities in the issues encountered, but it also sought to avoid taking responsibility for the policy that tried to address them. By exploring these developments, this article provides a historical explanation for the tension between comprehensive and restricted interpretations of community relations policy issues, and sheds light on the conflict that existed between the promoters of each. It contends that this was also one of the causes leading to the start of the Troubles.

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Introduction

  • 1 Fiona McCann and Fabrice Mourlon, Le Conflit Nord-Irlandais. Vers Une Paix Inachevée ? (1969-2007), (...)
  • 2 During the Troubles, narratives of events could be disputed locally, or on a wider scale. Discussio (...)
  • 3 John McGarry and Brendan O’Leary, Explaining Northern Ireland: Broken Images (Oxford; Cambridge: Bl (...)
  • 4 McGarry and O’Leary, 1.

1In their comprehensive work on the conflict in Northern Ireland, Fiona McCann and Fabrice Mourlon1 suggest starting a conversation about the events that marked the Troubles. This is a valiant proposal, given that the accounts given on them have been disputed both during the conflict and afterwards.2 Their work is also underpinned by the stimulating proposal to take as an object of study not only the events of the conflict, but also the interpretations made of its causes, pertinently defined by McCann and Mourlon as multi-factorial. In 1995, John McGarry and Brendan O’Leary’s seminal work identified a multitude of explanatory interpretations3 which, they argued, led to a "meta-conflict", that is "the conflict about what the conflict is about".4 As a result, navigating such diverging accounts and interpretations may be a daunting task, all the more so as showing preference for one may also, implicitly, be a marker of lenience for its promoter.

  • 5 My work can be found in the following book: Joana Etchart, Community Relations and the Troubles in (...)
  • 6 John Whyte, Interpreting Northern Ireland (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1990), 258.
  • 7 McGarry and O’Leary, Explaining Northern Ireland, 5–6.
  • 8 See for example: Robbie McVeigh, ‘Between Reconciliation and Pacification: The British State and Co (...)

2Having said that, and in line with McCann and Mourlon’s suggestion that interpretations may also become an object of study, in the course of my work, I have taken a particular interest in what has been presented as the dichotomy between external and internal explanations.5 Based on John Whyte’s 1990 analysis,6 McGarry and O’Leary explained that the defenders of the former tend to insist on the responsibility of government representatives and decision-makers, whereas the promoters of the latter preferably focus on elements perceived as specific to Northern Ireland, notably the divisions between Catholics and Protestants.7 As part of this, references made to the traits separating the two communities tend to be presented as problematic, and as bearing intrinsic and ancient attributes. Interestingly, in the decades following the 1998 Good Friday Agreement, this internal interpretation, and its manifestation in community relations policy, became increasingly criticised for focusing solely on the antagonism separating Catholics and Protestants, for side-lining other factors leading to discrimination, and for overlooking the responsibility of state and government authorities operative in Northern Ireland. These critical views8 laid bare the following questions: had authorities insisted on internal divisions as an explanatory grid? And, had wider demands for equality and human rights been sidelined in the process?

  • 9 Etchart, Community Relations and the Troubles in Northern Ireland, 1969-90. A Policy History.
  • 10 The 1969 Cameron report in Cameron (Lord), Disturbances in Northern Ireland. Report of the Commissi (...)

3These questions prompted me to conduct research on the history of community relations policy during the Troubles in order to examine what exactly was put in place first in 1969, how the policy gradually evolved in the turbulent context of the Troubles, and to assess whether it solely aimed to improve relations between Catholics and Protestants.9 In this article, which presents an extract from my findings, I propose to focus on the historical moment when problems known as citizens’ grievances entered the sphere of public policy in the years leading to 1969. In the 1960s, the notion of citizens’ grievances was a generic term used by organisations promoting social and political reforms, such as the Campaign for Social Justice (CSJ) who raised awareness of differential access to housing, voting and employment for Catholics in Dungannon. Gradually, as different organisations assembled in the Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association (NICRA), the term of citizens’ grievances encompassed various social and political problems. In 1968, the Cameron Commission was set up to investigate the context leading to the violent episodes of 1968-69. In the report, published in 1969, they referred to "complaints and allegations of grievance and injustice".10

  • 11 John W. Kingdon, Agendas, Alternatives, and Public Policies (Boston: Little, Brown, 1984); Ian Gree (...)
  • 12 Deborah A. Stone, ‘Causal Stories and the Formation of Policy Agendas’, Political Science Quarterly(...)
  • 13 Stone, 282.

4Critical reforms were introduced to redress issues in the electoral system and in the administration of law and order in 1968. Then, in 1969, a more ambitious policy proposal was devised in 1969 under the heading of community relations. This article analyses how the problematic situations of citizens’ grievances became a policy problem, and thus entered the realm of public agenda, by drawing upon some key concepts and methods from the literature on policy analysis.11 The work of Deborah Stone was an important source of inspiration for identifying the critical moment at which situations may become a policy problem, when they "come to be seen as caused by human actions and amenable to human intervention."12 Such a shift leads the various actors involved to forge what she defined as "causal stories": "stories that describe harms and difficulties, attribute them to actions of other individuals or organizations, and thereby claim the right to invoke government power to stop the harm."13

  • 14 Stone, 282.
  • 15 Academics also proposed various interpretations. See for instance: Hugh Trevor-Roper, ‘Why Ulster F (...)

5At the particular historical juncture of 1968-69, composing stories that brought about "harm and difficulties",14 as suggested by Stone, was a topical point of concern in Northern Ireland.15 The Cameron Commission warned against the tendency to single out one explanation:

  • 16 Cameron (Lord), Disturbances in Northern Ireland. Report of the Commission Appointed by the Governo (...)

In a situation which contains so many grave possibilities we would again draw particular attention to the complexity of the causes of those disorders which we were called on to investigate, and to the dangers which over-emphasis or over-simplification in press or other report or comment on particular facets of these causes could so readily produce.16

  • 17 McCluskey, Up off Their Knees; Purdie, Politics in the Streets: The Origins of the Civil Rights Mov (...)
  • 18 C.J. Woods, ‘Biography of Sheelagh Marie Murnaghan’, Dictionary of Irish Biography (www.dib.ie: Roy (...)
  • 19 C.J. Bateman, Joint Working Party on Community Relations, Final Report Cabinet Meeting 2 October 19 (...)

6In this article, I will contend that, in the years preceding 1969, major questions were being tacitly negotiated in the key domains of governance and citizenry, as demands were made for clearer definitions of citizens’ rights and duties by civil rights groups,17 and by members of the Opposition in the Parliament of Northern Ireland.18 Their efforts contributed to bringing the question of citizens’ grievances into the realm of public policy, to the extent that in 1968-69, a robust community relations reform package was envisaged.19 This relied on a comprehensive understanding of the policy issues at hand.

  • 20 NI government, Commentary by the Government of Northern Ireland to Accompany the Cameron Report Inc (...)
  • 21 Etchart, Community Relations and the Troubles in Northern Ireland, 1969-90. A Policy History.

7In response, government authorities in Stormont developed causal stories in which the scope of public action was confined to the non-governmental sphere of the community. For example, when a series of reforms were introduced in Northern Ireland in the autumn of 1969, prime minister (PM) James Chichester-Clark (Ulster Unionist Party, UUP) insisted on the need to encourage "the wise, courageous and persistent efforts of all responsible persons" to improve relations, not "Government action alone".20 This, in fact, amounted to a mechanism of resistance to change. Not only did it deny the causal responsibility of executive and legislative authorities in the issues encountered, but it also sought to avoid taking responsibility for the policy that sought to address them. The particular causal story that was thus elaborated insisted on the need to reform people’s conduct. This has been defined in my work as the restricted interpretation.21

8By exploring these dynamics, this article will provide a historical explanation for the tension between comprehensive and restricted interpretations of community relations policy issues which, arguably, also laid the foundations for the conflict of interpretation between internal and external explanations.

Moving citizens’ grievances to the sphere of public policy, 1963-69

  • 22 Marc Mulholland, Northern Ireland at the Crossroads: Ulster Unionism in the O’Neill Years, 1960-69 (...)
  • 23 Paul Dixon, Northern Ireland: The Politics of War and Peace, 2nd ed (Basingstoke [England] ; New Yo (...)
  • 24 Dixon, 66–68.
  • 25 Brennan, The Conflict in Northern Ireland, 42.

9During his premiership (1963-69), PM Terence O’Neill (UUP) introduced a series of reforms with the intention of modernising the region.22 Not only did this project have many opponents within unionism,23 but, as noted, some aspects of the system of regional and local governance also came under scrutiny, in relation to discriminatory malpractices in such areas as policing, voting, employment and housing.24 Following his reelection in 1965,25 O’Neill introduced a series of reforms to improve specific electoral issues in 1966, and he proposed to rethink the links with the Catholic community on the premise of a specific interpretation of what constituted the community relations problem in Northern Ireland.

Forging the interpretation of the two communities

  • 26 Terence O’Neill, ‘On Community Relations in Northern Ireland’, The Times, April 1967.
  • 27 O’Neill.

10As a case in point, in an address published in 1967 in The Times, O’Neill forged a particular understanding of the situation of the two communities. On the one hand, the majority was described as "loyal by tradition and sentiment to its British heritage".26 On the other, O’Neill provided the following definition of the minority: "seeing in the new government merely a perpetuation of the historic Protestant ascendancy, [the minority] withdrew into attitudes ranging from detachment to outright hostility."27 By thus extracting himself from the majority / minority situation and by proposing to defend wider interests, O’Neill thus reinforced his position as leader:

  • 28 O’Neill.

What we want to do is not become involved in a profitless exchange of charge and counter-charge but to emphasize more and more those things which unite Protestant and Catholic in our community. For, in the last resort, a truly happy and stable society must depend not upon legislation by Stormont or by Westminster but upon mutual trust.28

  • 29 Audra Mitchell, ‘Putting the Peaces Back Together: The “Long” Liberalising Peace in Northern Irelan (...)
  • 30 By referring to the community, O'Neill places responsibility in the sphere of fate, as opposed to t (...)

11The reference to "mutual trust" echoes O’Neill’s preferred approach to self-help or mutual help, as underlined by Audra Mitchell.29 By this he meant that the situation could improve in Northern Ireland provided that people in the "community" changed. This way of thinking, which meant that no structural reforms were deemed necessary in the field of discrimination, could be interpreted as an attempt to block such policy problems from entering the sphere of public action.30

  • 31 Cameron (Lord), Disturbances in Northern Ireland. Report of the Commission Appointed by the Governo (...)
  • 32 Purdie, Politics in the Streets: The Origins of the Civil Rights Movement in Northern Ireland.
  • 33 Historians and social scientists have written extensively on these movements, and have shown for ex (...)

12However, O’Neill reforms and imaginings of "a truly happy and stable society" fell short of the expectations of civil rights campaigners, who demanded the application of principled rights, such as universal suffrage at local government elections and equal access to public housing and employment. In reference to the British National Council for Civil Liberties in England, which some campaigners claimed to draw inspiration from,31 profound changes were now expected in the field of civil rights and liberties.32 In 1967, some of the various groups fighting for the advancement of political and class struggles and of the rights of the Catholic minority assembled in the organisation of the Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association (NICRA).33

  • 34 The Ulster Liberal Party was an emanation of the British Liberal Party. They drew members from Cath (...)

13However, archival documents show that until 1968 O’Neill’s government played down the importance of such questions, notably when Opposition MP Sheelagh Murnaghan (Queen’s University), a member of the Ulster Liberal Party,34 submitted Human Rights Bills on four occasions between 1964 and 1968, the government members present at the debates repeatedly denied that discrimination should be a matter for public action.

Demands for public intervention for the protection of principled rights

  • 35 NIHC Deb 8 Feb 1966, Second Reading of Human Rights Bill, vol. 62 (Belfast: Hansard, 1966), col. 68 (...)
  • 36 NIHC Deb 8 Feb 1966, Second Reading of Human Rights Bill, vol. 62, col. 712.
  • 37 Rynder, ‘Sheelagh Murnaghan and the Ulster Liberal Party’; Illingworth, Sheelagh Murnaghan, 1924-19 (...)
  • 38 NIHC Deb 7 Feb 1967 Second Reading of Human Rights Bill, vol. 65 (Belfast: Hansard, 1967), col. 925
  • 39 NIHC Deb 7 Feb 1967 Second Reading of Human Rights Bill, vol. 65, cols 952–53.
  • 40 NIHC Deb 7 Feb 1967 Second Reading of Human Rights Bill, vol. 65, col. 948.
  • 41 NIHC Deb 8 Feb 1966, Second Reading of Human Rights Bill, vol. 62, col. 739.
  • 42 MP Murnaghan: "Full citizenship requires that equal rights and opportunities should not only be not (...)

14In 1966 for example, Murnaghan explained that her proposal intended "to make unjust, discriminatory practices amenable to the law and to create machinery whereby complaints may be fully and impartially investigated".35 She defended "principles of fundamental human rights"36 on multiple grounds, such as race, colour, religion, and gender. However, these attempts were met with indifference, as fewer than ten MPs voted in favour of the Bill each time it was presented.37 Besides, few members of the majority party, the UUP, even took part in the debates. In 1967, Murnaghan acknowledged that "very little notice was taken"38 by the government. The Attorney General described the "empty Benches" which, to him, "hardly suggest that this is regarded as a "burning question".39 He also claimed that the proposed legislation would be "unnecessary" and "impracticable".40 Importantly, on these issues, the support of the law was not deemed necessary, as also shown by the statement made by Ulster Unionist MP Robert W.B. McConnell (South Antrim), Minister of Home Affairs, in 1966: "this is not a subject we should try to deal with by legislation".41 In contrast, Murnaghan demanded that the issue of "equal rights and opportunities"42 entered the realm of public agenda.

  • 43 Stone described this perception as an "unintentional" consequence. Stone, ‘Causal Stories and the F (...)
  • 44 Stone, 281.

15This clearly constituted a major bone of contention. On the one hand, for Murnaghan and some members of the Opposition, some form of public intervention was deemed necessary to protect the rights of minorities – Catholics, women and other minorities. But, on the other hand, the Stormont government was defending the position that the law did not deny equal rights and opportunities, which leads to infer that inequality was perceived as a non-intentional phenomenon.43 On the basis of Stone’s theory, the period from 1963 to 1968 constituted a critical juncture in the formation of the policy agenda on these questions,44 given that legislative intervention was requested by members of the Opposition and civil rights activists in order to have them enter sphere of public policy. But that strong resistance was offered to prevent this from taking place.

The volte-face of 1968 and 1969

  • 45 Cameron (Lord), Disturbances in Northern Ireland. Report of the Commission Appointed by the Governo (...)
  • 46 Prince and Warner, Belfast and Derry in Revolt.

16Citizens’ grievances became a burning question in 1968 and 1969. In 1968, the NICRA, together with local groups, organised marches in Coaslisland/Dungannon and in Londonderry.45 This created tensions with the government services in charge of maintaining law and order, who were generally reluctant to authorise them. Clashes occurred on various occasions with police officers of the regional Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC), and unionists who opposed the reforms also gathered and confronted civil rights protesters, to the extent that riots and battles erupted on the streets of the main cities of Belfast and Londonderry.46 More precisely, on 5th October, when a civil rights march in Londonderry was rerouted by the Minister of Home Affairs, William Craig, protests and counter-protests ensued and lasted two months.

  • 47 The Special Powers Act (SPA) was voted by the Northern Ireland Parliament in 1922. It granted extra (...)
  • 48 Cameron (Lord), Disturbances in Northern Ireland. Report of the Commission Appointed by the Governo (...)
  • 49 Cameron (Lord), Disturbances in Northern Ireland. Report of the Commission Appointed by the Governo (...)

17At that stage, informal talks took place between the executive representatives of Labour PM Harold Wilson’s government and unionist PM O’Neill’s government. Following a meeting in Downing Street on 4th November 1968, reforms were presented to tackle five key aspects, among which the allocation of houses, the development of the city of Londonderry, and the reform of local government and of Special Powers.47 These reforms also concerned the need to investigate citizens’ grievances through the creation of "effective machinery" to be able to do so "in an objective way".48. As suggested, a Commission chaired by Lord Cameron was set up to investigate "the violence and civil disturbance in Northern Ireland on and since 5th October 1968".49 In January 1969, senior civil servants in Northern Ireland started investigating the possibility of introducing comprehensive community relations policy reforms to deal with citizens’ grievances. This new policy field was adopted in the autumn of 1969 by government representatives in Stormont, some of whom had consistently and potently rejected similar proposals between 1964 and 1968.

A robust community relations policy to address citizens’ grievances in 1969

  • 50 ‘Cabinet Meeting 30 January 1969’ (Offices of the Cabinet Stormont, Belfast, 1969), sec. Interim Re (...)
  • 51 ‘Cabinet Meeting 30 September 1969’ (Offices of the Cabinet Stormont, Belfast, 1969), sec. Final Re (...)
  • 52 "We consider that there may be advantages in presenting legislation on incitement to religious hatr (...)
  • 53 "[…] it ought to encourage the growth of local voluntary organisations – only in this way can it ge (...)
  • 54 ‘Cabinet Meeting 30 September 1969’, sec. Final Report.

18As stated, discussions began on the possibility of devising a robust community relations policy in January 1969, as O’Neill set up a Working Party on Citizens’ Grievances.50 In September, the Joint Working Party on Community Relations issued a final report,51 in which they presented a comprehensive community relations policy, based on a four-pronged course of action aiming to tackle incitement to religious hatred,52 to set up a machinery permitting to investigate complaints (with the creation of the position of a Commissioner for Complaints, assisted by fieldworkers, similar to the Race Relations Board in Great Britain), and to improve community relations and reach out to the "grass roots" (by way of an autonomous body).53 Finally, the Joint Working Party wished to have "comprehensive legislation along the lines of the Human Rights Bills which are operative in Canada and the United States" drawn up.54

  • 55 In January 1969, members of People’s Democracy (PD) organised a march from Belfast to Londonderry a (...)
  • 56 Cameron (Lord), Disturbances in Northern Ireland. Report of the Commission Appointed by the Governo (...)
  • 57 James Callaghan, A House Divided (London: Collins, 1973), 66.

19However, such audacious, comprehensive proposals were formulated at a complex juncture, as dramatic changes were occurring in Northern Ireland in the course of the year 1969, and as the security situation worsened. A march organised in January by the People’s Democracy between Belfast and Londonderry was attacked several times, and most brutally in the Burntollet Ambush.55 Tensions also escalated during the summer marching season, to the extent that the British government sent in the army "on a temporary basis" to assist the RUC in restoring law and order.56 The British executive were simultaneously pressing for proactive reforms, as shown by the increased inter-executive exchanges in 1969.57

  • 58 Steve Bruce, God Save Ulster: The Religion and Politics of Paisleyism (Oxford: Oxford University Pr (...)
  • 59 Dixon, Northern Ireland, 100.

20PM O’Neill called for an election in February to try and assert his leadership, which was contested by members of the majority Unionist Party, and by more radical leaders such as Ian Paisley.58 As explained by Paul Dixon, the election proved to be divisive among unionists, with pro- and anti-O’Neill unionists standing against one another.59 Eventually, O’Neill was elected, but he resigned in April, and Chichester-Clark took over as PM in critical circumstances both within unionism – due to divisions – and in Northern Ireland more generally.

  • 60 Cameron (Lord), Disturbances in Northern Ireland. Report of the Commission Appointed by the Governo (...)
  • 61 Michael Hall, ed., Grassroots Leadership (1), Recollections by May Blood and Joe Camplisson, Farset (...)

21To the demands that had been expressed since the mid-1960s, additional concerns were now also expressed concerning the responses that were being made to the events of the summer of 1969, as riots had now extended to various towns, such as Dungannon, Dungiven, Armagh and Newry. People living in mixed communities and at the interface of antagonistic residential areas were subjected to extremely violent situations. Houses were burnt down, and people were forced to flee.60 Personal accounts of the period clearly demonstrate that the events that took place in the course of 1969 constituted a turning point.61

Pinpointing a critical situation of delegitimation

  • 62 Etchart, Community Relations and the Troubles in Northern Ireland, 1969-90. A Policy History.
  • 63 Beetham and Lord identified three dimensions: legality (whether policy-making is based on establish (...)
  • 64 Beetham and Lord, 15.
  • 65 Beetham and Lord, 15.
  • 66 On such analyses of personal accounts and oral testimonies, see also: Graham Dawson, Making Peace w (...)
  • 67 Etchart, Community Relations and the Troubles in Northern Ireland, 1969-90. A Policy History.
  • 68 See testimonies in Dawson, Making Peace with the Past?

22In my work,62 personal accounts given by local community workers and leaders, who were engaged in the peaceful pursuance of cross-community dialogue and local development initiatives in various sectors such as housing and employment, have constituted an important resource to gauge the extent to which the ambitions stated in community relations policy matched contemporary popular concerns and needs. They helped measure the levels of consent for positions of authority and to identify situations of crisis in it. In governance, David Beetham and Christopher Lord have referred to the notion of "legitimation", which, standing as one of the three interrelated dimensions pertaining to legitimacy,63 requires that one’s authority be acknowledged not only by other authorities, but also, and this is of particular interest for us, by the "express consent or affirmation"64 of citizens. When this is withdrawn, Beetham and Lord describe a situation of "delegitimation".65 Testimonies given by local community workers and leaders clearly show that an acute crisis in delegitimation was unfolding in 1969.66 Personal experiences of shock and disjuncture reflected wider phenomena of what was sometimes referred to as alienation or remoteness in archival evidence.67 Besides, consent for positions of authority was withdrawn by the people affected, sometimes irrevocably.68

  • 69 Brendan Lynn, Holding the Ground: The Nationalist Party in Northern Ireland, 1945 - 72 (Aldershot, (...)
  • 70 ‘Cabinet Meeting 30 September 1969’, 14.
  • 71 ‘Cabinet Meeting 30 September 1969’, 14.

23It was in such a context that, in the autumn of 1969, the Northern Ireland Parliament was asked to legislate on citizens’ grievances and to implement community relations policy. Paradoxically, though, this audacious policy intervention came at a time when the authority of the body responsible for legislation was most critically weakened. Parliamentary legitimacy was undergoing a profound crisis, as shown by some of the statements made during the September debates on the newly-published Cameron Report. Opposition MPs expressed a form of experiential disappointment, such as Opposition MP James O’Reilly (Mourne), from the Nationalist Party,69 who explained that they had "suffered a long series of disappointments in trying to do something in this Parliament."70 He stated that they "were met with constant denials – and there is no use in trying to cloud this or gloss over it – that there was any need for reform."71 The analysis of the Bills submitted by Murnaghan in the course of the 1960s helps confirm that multiple attempts had been made to introduce reforms. But the testimonies provided by members of the Opposition shed light on the debilitated state of the Parliament in 1969. Yet, the paradox was that it was asked to legislate and implement an ambitious programme of reforms. This paradox was foundational: on the one hand, under the heading of community relations policy, a comprehensive approach was put forward in order to address citizens’ grievances, but, on the other hand, the law and the legislature were undergoing a profound crisis.

Conclusion

  • 72 NIHC Deb 30 Sept 1969, Cameron Commission of Inquiry, vol. 74 (Belfast: Hansard, 1969), col. 11.
  • 73 NIHC Deb 30 Sept 1969, Cameron Commission of Inquiry, vol. 74, col. 7.
  • 74 On the issue of citizens' complaints of maladministration, a governmental structure was set up unde (...)

24In the autumn of 1969, PM Chichester-Clark accepted the findings of the Cameron Report, agreed that a legislative framework was necessary to guarantee "fairness",72 and endorsed community relations reforms, asking the Parliament to support them.73 In the following months, most of the proposed community relations policy strands were voted in separate pieces of legislation.74 By that stage, citizens’ grievances had entered the realm of public agency and had become a policy problem.

25On the one hand, it was a policy field which opened new possibilities for the advancement of citizens’ rights, and it initially offered the capacity to tackle the question of discrimination in a comprehensive manner. But, on the other hand, a close analysis of its inception and evolution reveals that various stakeholders in Stormont actively construed nuanced interpretations of the policy, so as to offer resistance. In other words, the new policy proposal created a terrain in which key issues pertaining to citizens’ grievances and rights came to be negotiated, and framing the policy issue became a major stake.

  • 75 NI government, Commentary by the Government of Northern Ireland to Accompany the Cameron Report Inc (...)

26Two different interpretations were in competition. One envisaged a comprehensive approach aligned with questions pertaining to citizens’ grievances and rights, such as equality and effective access to political representation for all. The other one insisted on the need to encourage "the wise, courageous and persistent efforts of all responsible persons" to improve relations – not "Government action alone", as stated by Chichester-Clark.75 This restricted view was consistent with the idea that there was no need to legislate on such matters. Instead, change was promoted in the sphere of attitudes. This approach was in line with O’Neill’s description provided in 1967 of a problem which he situated in the realm of the non-governmental sphere of the community.

  • 76 For a comprehensive account of the history of the policy, see: Etchart, Community Relations and the (...)

27The analysis provided in this article highlights the existence of interesting dynamics in the stage of framing the policy problem of citizens’ grievances when they entered the policy agenda. Studying the way in which this unfolded has permitted to analyse how responsibility was assigned for the situation, and for redress. Through the analysis of the stories that were composed, I noted in my work that efforts were made from the part of Stormont authorities to deny responsibility for both, by developing various mechanisms effectively generating obfuscation. As a result, when community relations policy came to be implemented in the following years, it carried a fundamental tension between the promise of new possibilities in governance on the one hand, and the undercurrent of resistance to them on the other. This major line of tension constituted a core element of the history of community relations policy during the Troubles.76

  • 77 Government of Ireland and UK government, ‘The Joint Declaration of 15 December 1993 (Downing St. De (...)
  • 78 McVeigh, ‘Between Reconciliation and Pacification: The British State and Community Relations in the (...)
  • 79 UK Government, ‘Northern Ireland Act 1998’, legislation.gov.uk, 1998, sec. 75, https://www.legislat (...)

28As regards the introductory remarks on the causal interpretations of the Troubles, the micro-analysis of the history of community relations history shows that the opportunity of making crucial questions pertaining to the rights of the citizen amenable to public responsibility and agency in the 1960s, and the deployment of various mechanisms of resistance to prevent it from occurring, contributed to aggravating the crisis that was unfolding. My work has shown that this remained a major source of tensions in the decades that followed. For instance, in the 1980s, when a variety of actors in the machinery of direct rule governance – composed mainly of the Northern Ireland Office and the civil service – proposed a revamped version of community relations policy, conservative choices were made in favour of a restricted policy remit, which excluded comprehensive human-rights and equality frames and tended to focus on problems of divisions between the two communities. Nevertheless, such relatively conservative choices were rapidly reconsidered as the question of equality returned to the agenda in the 1990s. In the context of enhanced inter-executive – British and Irish – commitment to peace, notably in the 1993 Joint Declaration,77 and in the negotiations leading to the 1998 Good Friday Agreement, clarifications were required as to the distinction that had been made historically in community relations policy between restricted and comprehensive interpretations.78 Its association with the principle of equality in section 75 of the 1998 Act marked a shift in favour of the latter,79 even though Brexit and its multiple repercussions in Northern Ireland undermined that trend.

  • 80 Jenson and Papillon referred notably to "the conditions of inclusion – and exclusion – in the commu (...)
  • 81 Following the 1995 Québec referendum, in which the possibility to become a sovereign nation was nar (...)
  • 82 Jane Jenson, ‘Fated to Live in Interesting Times: Canada’s Changing Citizenship Regimes’, Canadian (...)
  • 83 Jenson, 628.
  • 84 Jenson, 628.
  • 85 "Full citizenship requires that equal rights and opportunities should not only be not denied by the (...)

29To some extent, in the period under scrutiny in this article, the issues at hand amounted to a truly modern question of governance that pertained to what Jane Jenson and Martin Papillon designated as "the citizenship regime"80 in their analysis of the crisis that unfolded later, in the 1990s, in Canada.81 In 1997, Jenson highlighted that citizenship is versatile and changing,82 and that the "rights of citizenship"83 are constantly being negotiated, given that they crucially signify "who is a member in full, entitled to equal treatment."84 As stated in this article, in the years leading to 1968, certain individuals and groups were demanding clearer definitions of what citizenship meant in Northern Ireland. Murnaghan’s reference to "[f]ull citizenship"85 during the second reading of the Human Rights Bill in 1966 showed that becoming a citizen "in full" was a crucial question. The failure to bring it into the sphere of public action could be considered as one of the many factors that caused the Troubles.

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Bryson, Anna, Kieran McEvoy, Brian Gormally, Daniel Holder, and Gemma McKeown. ‘Addressing the Legacy of Northern Ireland’s Past: The Model Bill Team’s Response to the NIO Proposals’ (Belfast: QUB Human Rights Centre, 2021).

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Dawson, Graham. Making Peace with the Past? Memories, Trauma and the Irish Troubles (Manchester; New York: Manchester University Press, 2010).

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Etchart, Joana. Community Relations and the Troubles in Northern Ireland, 1969-90. A Policy History (Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 2024, forthcoming).

Etchart, Joana. ‘“It’s a Very Emotional Kind of Thought”. An Appraisal of Five Community Workers’ Accounts of Their Involvement during the Troubles in Northern Ireland’. Close Encounters in War Journal, no. 4 (2021): 148–168.

Etchart, Joana. ‘“You Just Went out and Talked to Them.” An Interview with Maurice Hayes (1927-2017) on the Work of the Northern Ireland Community Relations Commission (1969-1975)’. Etudes Irlandaises, Irish Studies 46, no. 1 (2021): 55–71.

Government of Ireland, and UK government. ‘The Joint Declaration of 15 December 1993 (Downing St. Declaration)’, 1993. Irish Department of Foreign Affairs Website (https://www.dfa.ie).

Greener, Ian. ‘The Potential of Path Dependence in Political Studies’. Politics 25, no. 1 (2005): 62–72.

Hackett, Claire, and Bill Rolston. ‘The Burden of Memory: Victims, Storytelling and Resistance in Northern Ireland’. Memory Studies 2, no. 3 (September 2009): 355–376.

Hall, Michael, ed. Grassroots Leadership (1), Recollections by May Blood and Joe Camplisson. Farset Community Think Tanks Project. 70 (Newtownabbey: Island Publications, 2005).

Hall, Michael, ed. Grassroots Leadership (2), Recollections by Fr. Des Wilson and Tommy Gorman. Farset Community Think Tanks Project. 71 (Newtownabbey: Island Publications, 2005).

Hall, Michael, ed. Grassroots Leadership (3), Recollections by Jim McCorry and Jackie Hewitt. Farset Community Think Tanks Project. 72 (Newtownabbey: Island Publications, 2005).

Hall, Michael. Grassroots Leadership (4), Recollections by Jackie Redpath and Eilish Reilly. Farset Community Think Tanks Project. 75 (Newtownabbey: Island Publications, 2005).

Hall, Michael, ed. Grassroots Leadership (6), Recollections by June Campion and Billy Hutchinson. Farset Community Think Tanks Project. 77 (Newtownabbey: Island Publications, 2005).

Hall, Michael, ed. Grassroots Leadership (7), Recollections by Michael Hall. Farset Community Think Tanks Project. 78 (Newtownabbey: Island Publications, 2006).

Hamber, Brandon, and Gráinne Kelly. ‘Practice, Power and Inertia: Personal Narrative, Archives and Dealing with the Past in Northern Ireland’. Journal of Human Rights Practice 8, no. 1 (February 2016): 25–44.

Harvey, Colin, and Alex Schwartz. ‘Designing a Bill of Rights for Northern Ireland’. Northern Ireland. Northern Ireland Legal Quarterly 60, no. 2 (2009): 181–199.

Illingworth, Ruth. Sheelagh Murnaghan, 1924-1993: Stormont’s Only Liberal MP (Belfast: Ulster Historical Foundation, 2019).

Jenson, Jane. ‘Fated to Live in Interesting Times: Canada’s Changing Citizenship Regimes’. Canadian Journal of Political Science 30, no. 4 (December 1997): 627–644.

Jenson, Jane, and Martin Papillon. The Changing Boundaries of Citizenship: A Review and a Research Agenda (Ottawa: Canadian Policy Research Networks, 2001).

Juteau, Daniel. ‘The Citizen Makes an Entrée: Redefining the National Community in Quebec’. Citizenship Studies 6 (2002): 441–458.

Kingdon, John W. Agendas, Alternatives, and Public Policies (Boston: Little, Brown, 1984).

Lambkin, Brian. ‘The Historiography of the Conflict in Northern Ireland and the Reception of Andrew Boyd’s Holy War in Belfast (1969)’. Proceedings of the Royal Irish Academy 114C (2014): 327–358.

Lynn, Brendan. Holding the Ground: The Nationalist Party in Northern Ireland, 1945 - 72 (Aldershot, Hants: Ashgate, 1997).

McCann, Fiona, and Fabrice Mourlon. Le Conflit Nord-Irlandais. Vers Une Paix Inachevée ? (1969-2007) Clefs Concours Anglais - Civilisation (Paris: Atlande, 2024).

McCluskey, Conn. Up off Their Knees: A Commentary on the Civil Rights Movement in Northern Ireland (Belfast, Northern Ireland: Conn McCluskey and Associates, 1989).

McCrudden, Christopher. ‘Mainstreaming Equality in Northern Ireland 1998-2004: A Review of the Issues Concerning the Operation of the Equality Duty in Section 75 of the Northern Ireland Act 1998’. Section 75 Review (Belfast: Review of the operation of section 75 of the Northern Ireland Act 1998, 2004).

McEvoy, Kieran, Anna Bryson, Louise Mallinder, Daniel Holder, Gemma McKeown, and Brian Gormally. ‘Model Bill Team Initial Response to Northern Ireland Troubles (Legacy and Reconciliation) Bill’ (Belfast: Model Bill Team (Queen’s University and the CAJ), 2022).

McEvoy, Leslie, Kieran McEvoy, and Kirsten McConnachie. ‘Reconciliation as a Dirty Word: Conflict, Community Relations and Education in Northern Ireland’. Journal of International Affairs 60, no. 1 (2006): 81–106.

McGarry, John, and Brendan O’Leary. Explaining Northern Ireland: Broken Images (Oxford; Cambridge: Blackwell, 1995).

McGrattan, Cillian. Northern Ireland 1968-2008: The Politics of Entrenchment (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2010).

McVeigh, Robbie. ‘Between Reconciliation and Pacification: The British State and Community Relations in the North of Ireland’. Community Development Journal 37, no. 1 (2002): 47–59.

McVeigh, Robbie. Good Relations in Northern Ireland: Towards a Definition in Law (Belfast: Equality Commission, 2014).

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Mitchell, Audra. ‘Putting the Peaces Back Together: The “Long” Liberalising Peace in Northern Ireland, from O’Neill to PEACE’. Irish Political Studies 25, no. 3 (2010): 371–391.

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Pierson, Paul. Politics in Time: History, Institutions, and Social Analysis (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2004).

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Prince, Simon. Northern Ireland’s ’68: Civil Rights, Global Revolt and the Origins of the Troubles. [2007]. (Newbridge: Irish Academic Press, 2018).

Prince, Simon, and Geoffrey Warner. Belfast and Derry in Revolt: A New History of the Start of the Troubles. New revised edition. (Newbridge: Irish academic press, 2019).

Purdie, Bob. Politics in the Streets: The Origins of the Civil Rights Movement in Northern Ireland (Belfast: Blackstaff Press, 1990).

Rynder, Constance. ‘Sheelagh Murnaghan and the Ulster Liberal Party’. Journal of Liberal History, no. 71 (2011): 14–20.

Scarman, Leslie. The Scarman Report. Violence and Civil Disturbances in Northern Ireland in 1969, Report of Tribunal of Inquiry (Belfast: HMSO, 1972).

Stone, Deborah A. ‘Causal Stories and the Formation of Policy Agendas’. Political Science Quarterly 104, no. 2 (Summer 1989): 281–300.

Trevor-Roper, Hugh. ‘Why Ulster Fights?’ Réalités, December 1969, 48–53.

UK Government. ‘Northern Ireland Act 1998’. legislation.gov.uk, 1998. https://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1998/47/section/75.

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Whyte, John. Interpreting Northern Ireland (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1990).

Wing, Leah. ‘Dealing with the Past: Shared and Contested Narratives in “Post‐conflict” Northern Ireland’. Museum International 62, no. 1–2 (May 2010): 31–36.

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Notes

1 Fiona McCann and Fabrice Mourlon, Le Conflit Nord-Irlandais. Vers Une Paix Inachevée ? (1969-2007), Clefs Concours Anglais - Civilisation (Paris: Atlande, 2024).

2 During the Troubles, narratives of events could be disputed locally, or on a wider scale. Discussions also took place among historians, and within the judiciary when unsolved cases were taken to the courts. Such contests also continued after the Troubles, as 'dealing with the past' remained a topical issue in the post-conflict years, even to this day, with the much-contested Northern Ireland Troubles (Legacy and Reconciliation) Act introduced in 2023 by the British executive and legislative. On the discussions that took place in the post-conflict era, see for example: Claire Hackett and Bill Rolston, ‘The Burden of Memory: Victims, Storytelling and Resistance in Northern Ireland’, Memory Studies 2, no. 3 (September 2009): 355–376; Leah Wing, ‘Dealing with the Past: Shared and Contested Narratives in “Post‐conflict” Northern Ireland’, Museum International 62, no. 1–2 (May 2010): 31–36; Brandon Hamber and Gráinne Kelly, ‘Practice, Power and Inertia: Personal Narrative, Archives and Dealing with the Past in Northern Ireland’, Journal of Human Rights Practice 8, no. 1 (February 2016): 25–44; Anna Bryson, ‘Victims, Violence, and Voice: Transitional Justice, Oral History, and Dealing with the Past’, Hastings International and Comparative Law Review 39, no. 2 (2016): 299–354; Anna Bryson et al., ‘Addressing the Legacy of Northern Ireland’s Past: The Model Bill Team’s Response to the NIO Proposals’ (Belfast: QUB Human Rights Centre, 2021); Kieran McEvoy et al., ‘Model Bill Team Initial Response to Northern Ireland Troubles (Legacy and Reconciliation) Bill’ (Belfast: Model Bill Team (Queen’s University and the CAJ), 2022); UK Government, ‘Northern Ireland Troubles (Legacy and Reconciliation) Act 2023’ (2023).

3 John McGarry and Brendan O’Leary, Explaining Northern Ireland: Broken Images (Oxford; Cambridge: Blackwell, 1995).

4 McGarry and O’Leary, 1.

5 My work can be found in the following book: Joana Etchart, Community Relations and the Troubles in Northern Ireland, 1969-90. A Policy History (Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 2024, forthcoming).

6 John Whyte, Interpreting Northern Ireland (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1990), 258.

7 McGarry and O’Leary, Explaining Northern Ireland, 5–6.

8 See for example: Robbie McVeigh, ‘Between Reconciliation and Pacification: The British State and Community Relations in the North of Ireland’, Community Development Journal 37, no. 1 (2002): 47–59; Leslie McEvoy, Kieran McEvoy, and Kirsten McConnachie, ‘Reconciliation as a Dirty Word: Conflict, Community Relations and Education in Northern Ireland’, Journal of International Affairs 60, no. 1 (2006): 81–106; Cillian McGrattan, Northern Ireland 1968-2008: The Politics of Entrenchment (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2010); Robbie McVeigh, Good Relations in Northern Ireland: Towards a Definition in Law (Belfast: Equality Commission, 2014).

9 Etchart, Community Relations and the Troubles in Northern Ireland, 1969-90. A Policy History.

10 The 1969 Cameron report in Cameron (Lord), Disturbances in Northern Ireland. Report of the Commission Appointed by the Governor of Northern Ireland (Belfast: HMSO, 1969), para. 5. Some interesting secondary sources are: Bob Purdie, Politics in the Streets: The Origins of the Civil Rights Movement in Northern Ireland (Belfast: Blackstaff Press, 1990); Paul Brennan, The Conflict in Northern Ireland (Paris: Longman France, 1991); Paul Brennan and Richard Deutsch, L’Irlande Du Nord : Chronologie, 1968-1991 (Paris: PSN, 1993); Steve Bruce, The Edge of the Union (Oxford: OUP, 1994); Niall Ó Dochartaigh, From Civil Rights to Armalites: Derry and the Birth of Irish Troubles, Updated and revised (UK: Palgrave Macmillan, 2005); Simon Prince, Northern Ireland’s ’68: Civil Rights, Global Revolt and the Origins of the Troubles, Revised edition (Dublin: Irish Academic Press, 2018); Simon Prince and Geoffrey Warner, Belfast and Derry in Revolt: A New History of the Start of the Troubles, New revised edition (Newbridge: Irish academic press, 2019); Cameron (Lord), Disturbances in Northern Ireland. Report of the Commission Appointed by the Governor of Northern Ireland; NI government, Commentary by the Government of Northern Ireland to Accompany the Cameron Report Incorporating an Account of Progress and a Programme of Action (Belfast: HMSO, 1969), https://cain.ulster.ac.uk/hmso/nigov0969.htm; NICRC Research Unit, Flight, A Report on Population Movement in Belfast during August 1971 (Belfast: NICRC, 1971); Conn McCluskey, Up off Their Knees: A Commentary on the Civil Rights Movement in Northern Ireland (Belfast, Northern Ireland: Conn McCluskey and Associates, 1989).

11 John W. Kingdon, Agendas, Alternatives, and Public Policies (Boston: Little, Brown, 1984); Ian Greener, ‘The Potential of Path Dependence in Political Studies’, Politics 25, no. 1 (2005): 62–72; Paul Pierson, Dismantling the Welfare State? Reagan, Thatcher, and the Politics of Retrenchment, Cambridge Studies in Comparative Politics (Cambridge; New York: Cambridge University Press, 1994); Paul Pierson, Politics in Time: History, Institutions, and Social Analysis (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2004).

12 Deborah A. Stone, ‘Causal Stories and the Formation of Policy Agendas’, Political Science Quarterly 104, no. 2 (Summer 1989): 281.

13 Stone, 282.

14 Stone, 282.

15 Academics also proposed various interpretations. See for instance: Hugh Trevor-Roper, ‘Why Ulster Fights?’, Réalités, December 1969, 48–53; Liam De Paor, Divided Ulster, A Penguin Special (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1970); Andrew Boyd, Holy War in Belfast (Tralee: Anvil Books, 1970). See also: Brian Lambkin, ‘The Historiography of the Conflict in Northern Ireland and the Reception of Andrew Boyd’s Holy War in Belfast (1969)’, Proceedings of the Royal Irish Academy 114C (2014): 327–358.

16 Cameron (Lord), Disturbances in Northern Ireland. Report of the Commission Appointed by the Governor of Northern Ireland, 236.

17 McCluskey, Up off Their Knees; Purdie, Politics in the Streets: The Origins of the Civil Rights Movement in Northern Ireland; Ó Dochartaigh, From Civil Rights to Armalites; Prince, Northern Ireland’s ’68, 2018.

18 C.J. Woods, ‘Biography of Sheelagh Marie Murnaghan’, Dictionary of Irish Biography (www.dib.ie: Royal Irish Academy, 2009), https://www.dib.ie; Constance Rynder, ‘Sheelagh Murnaghan and the Ulster Liberal Party’, Journal of Liberal History, no. 71 (2011): 14–20; Ruth Illingworth, Sheelagh Murnaghan, 1924-1993: Stormont’s Only Liberal MP (Belfast: Ulster Historical Foundation, 2019).

19 C.J. Bateman, Joint Working Party on Community Relations, Final Report Cabinet Meeting 2 October 1969 (Belfast: Offices of the Cabinet Stormont, 1969).

NI government, Commentary by the Government of Northern Ireland to Accompany the Cameron Report Incorporating an Account of Progress and a Programme of Action, para. 65.

20 NI government, Commentary by the Government of Northern Ireland to Accompany the Cameron Report Incorporating an Account of Progress and a Programme of Action.

21 Etchart, Community Relations and the Troubles in Northern Ireland, 1969-90. A Policy History.

22 Marc Mulholland, Northern Ireland at the Crossroads: Ulster Unionism in the O’Neill Years, 1960-69 (Basingstoke: Macmillan, 2000); Henry Patterson, Ireland since 1939: The Persistence of Conflict (Dublin: Penguin Books, 2006); Lorenzo Bosi, ‘Explaining the Emergence Process of the Civil Rights Protest in Northern Ireland (1945-1968): Insights from a Relational Social Movement Approach’, Journal of Historical Sociology 21, no. 2–3 (2008): 242–271; Audra Mitchell, Lost in Transformation Violent Peace and Peaceful Conflict in Northern Ireland (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2011).

23 Paul Dixon, Northern Ireland: The Politics of War and Peace, 2nd ed (Basingstoke [England] ; New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2008), 63.

24 Dixon, 66–68.

25 Brennan, The Conflict in Northern Ireland, 42.

26 Terence O’Neill, ‘On Community Relations in Northern Ireland’, The Times, April 1967.

27 O’Neill.

28 O’Neill.

29 Audra Mitchell, ‘Putting the Peaces Back Together: The “Long” Liberalising Peace in Northern Ireland, from O’Neill to PEACE’, Irish Political Studies 25, no. 3 (2010): 379.

30 By referring to the community, O'Neill places responsibility in the sphere of fate, as opposed to the field of public action. For an explanation of the distinction between both, see Stone, ‘Causal Stories and the Formation of Policy Agendas’, 283.

31 Cameron (Lord), Disturbances in Northern Ireland. Report of the Commission Appointed by the Governor of Northern Ireland, para. 30.

32 Purdie, Politics in the Streets: The Origins of the Civil Rights Movement in Northern Ireland.

33 Historians and social scientists have written extensively on these movements, and have shown for example that local realities as well as international struggles in Europe and in the US played influential roles. See: Paul Arthur, The People’s Democracy 1968-73 (Belfast: Blackstaff Press, 1974); Purdie, Politics in the Streets: The Origins of the Civil Rights Movement in Northern Ireland; Simon Prince, Northern Ireland’s ’68: Civil Rights, Global Revolt and the Origins of the Troubles, [2007] (Newbridge: Irish Academic Press, 2018).

34 The Ulster Liberal Party was an emanation of the British Liberal Party. They drew members from Catholic and Protestant communities and adopted liberal views on social, economic and political reforms. See: Colin Harvey and Alex Schwartz, ‘Designing a Bill of Rights for Northern Ireland’, Northern Ireland. Northern Ireland Legal Quarterly 60, no. 2 (2009): 181–199; Rynder, ‘Sheelagh Murnaghan and the Ulster Liberal Party’; Illingworth, Sheelagh Murnaghan, 1924-1993.

35 NIHC Deb 8 Feb 1966, Second Reading of Human Rights Bill, vol. 62 (Belfast: Hansard, 1966), col. 685.

36 NIHC Deb 8 Feb 1966, Second Reading of Human Rights Bill, vol. 62, col. 712.

37 Rynder, ‘Sheelagh Murnaghan and the Ulster Liberal Party’; Illingworth, Sheelagh Murnaghan, 1924-1993.

38 NIHC Deb 7 Feb 1967 Second Reading of Human Rights Bill, vol. 65 (Belfast: Hansard, 1967), col. 925.

39 NIHC Deb 7 Feb 1967 Second Reading of Human Rights Bill, vol. 65, cols 952–53.

40 NIHC Deb 7 Feb 1967 Second Reading of Human Rights Bill, vol. 65, col. 948.

41 NIHC Deb 8 Feb 1966, Second Reading of Human Rights Bill, vol. 62, col. 739.

42 MP Murnaghan: "Full citizenship requires that equal rights and opportunities should not only be not denied by the law but that the law should be able to protect those rights". NIHC Deb 8 Feb 1966, Second Reading of Human Rights Bill, vol. 62, col. 686.

43 Stone described this perception as an "unintentional" consequence. Stone, ‘Causal Stories and the Formation of Policy Agendas’, 291–292.

44 Stone, 281.

45 Cameron (Lord), Disturbances in Northern Ireland. Report of the Commission Appointed by the Governor of Northern Ireland.

46 Prince and Warner, Belfast and Derry in Revolt.

47 The Special Powers Act (SPA) was voted by the Northern Ireland Parliament in 1922. It granted extraordinary powers to the Northern Ireland Minister for Home Affairs to maintain peace and order. Although introduced as a short-term response to the civil war, it was then perpetuated. See: Laura K. Donohue, ‘Regulating Northern Ireland: The Special Powers Acts, 1922-1972’, The Historical Journal 41, no. 4 (1998): 1089–1120.

48 Cameron (Lord), Disturbances in Northern Ireland. Report of the Commission Appointed by the Governor of Northern Ireland, para. 17.

49 Cameron (Lord), Disturbances in Northern Ireland. Report of the Commission Appointed by the Governor of Northern Ireland.

50 ‘Cabinet Meeting 30 January 1969’ (Offices of the Cabinet Stormont, Belfast, 1969), sec. Interim Report on Citizens’ Grievances, PRONI CAB/4/1428.

51 ‘Cabinet Meeting 30 September 1969’ (Offices of the Cabinet Stormont, Belfast, 1969), sec. Final Report, PRONI CAB/4/1478/11.

52 "We consider that there may be advantages in presenting legislation on incitement to religious hatred at the earliest possible date, and separately from legislation on community relations in general or from any legislation in the wider area of public order and security which may eventually be undertaken. We also consider that the proposed Bill should amend the criminal law and should therefore be the responsibility of the Minister of Home Affairs rather than of the Minister of Community Relations." ‘Cabinet Meeting 30 September 1969’, sec. Final Report.

53 "[…] it ought to encourage the growth of local voluntary organisations – only in this way can it get down to the 'grass roots' and involve local religious and political leaders." ‘Cabinet Meeting 30 September 1969’, sec. Final Report.

54 ‘Cabinet Meeting 30 September 1969’, sec. Final Report.

55 In January 1969, members of People’s Democracy (PD) organised a march from Belfast to Londonderry as part of their campaign to demand civil rights. However, groups of loyalist protesters assembled on the course of the march, and an ambush took place on Burntollet Bridge near Londonderry. This violent episode – known as the Burntollet Ambush – marked a turning-point in the history of the Troubles. See for example: Paul Bew and Gordon Gillespie, Northern Ireland: A Chronology of the Troubles, 1968-1993 (Dublin: Gill & Macmillan, 1993).

56 Cameron (Lord), Disturbances in Northern Ireland. Report of the Commission Appointed by the Governor of Northern Ireland, para. 56; UK government and NI government, ‘Declaration’, August 1969.

57 James Callaghan, A House Divided (London: Collins, 1973), 66.

58 Steve Bruce, God Save Ulster: The Religion and Politics of Paisleyism (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1989).

59 Dixon, Northern Ireland, 100.

60 Cameron (Lord), Disturbances in Northern Ireland. Report of the Commission Appointed by the Governor of Northern Ireland; Leslie Scarman, The Scarman Report. Violence and Civil Disturbances in Northern Ireland in 1969, Report of Tribunal of Inquiry (Belfast: HMSO, 1972); Jonathan Bardon, A History of Ulster, Updated (Belfast: The Blackstaff Press, 2005); Prince and Warner, Belfast and Derry in Revolt.

61 Michael Hall, ed., Grassroots Leadership (1), Recollections by May Blood and Joe Camplisson, Farset Community Think Tanks Project, 70 (Newtownabbey: Island Publications, 2005); Michael Hall, ed., Grassroots Leadership (2), Recollections by Fr. Des Wilson and Tommy Gorman, Farset Community Think Tanks Project, 71 (Newtownabbey: Island Publications, 2005); Michael Hall, ed., Grassroots Leadership (3), Recollections by Jim McCorry and Jackie Hewitt, Farset Community Think Tanks Project, 72 (Newtownabbey: Island Publications, 2005); Michael Hall, Grassroots Leadership (4), Recollections by Jackie Redpath and Eilish Reilly, Farset Community Think Tanks Project, 75 (Newtownabbey: Island Publications, 2005); Michael Hall, ed., Grassroots Leadership (6), Recollections by June Campion and Billy Hutchinson, Farset Community Think Tanks Project, 77 (Newtownabbey: Island Publications, 2005); Michael Hall, ed., Grassroots Leadership (7), Recollections by Michael Hall, Farset Community Think Tanks Project, 78 (Newtownabbey: Island Publications, 2006); Joana Etchart, ‘“It’s a Very Emotional Kind of Thought”. An Appraisal of Five Community Workers’ Accounts of Their Involvement during the Troubles in Northern Ireland’, Close Encounters in War Journal, no. 4 (2021): 148–168.

62 Etchart, Community Relations and the Troubles in Northern Ireland, 1969-90. A Policy History.

63 Beetham and Lord identified three dimensions: legality (whether policy-making is based on established legal rules), normative justifiability (whether the rules of governance are deemed acceptable) and legitimation. David Beetham and Christopher Lord, ‘Introduction: Legitimacy and the European Union’, in Political Theory and the European Union: Legitimacy, Constitutional Choice and Citizenship (London: Routledge, 1998), 15.

64 Beetham and Lord, 15.

65 Beetham and Lord, 15.

66 On such analyses of personal accounts and oral testimonies, see also: Graham Dawson, Making Peace with the Past? Memories, Trauma and the Irish Troubles (Manchester; New York: Manchester University Press, 2010); Joana Etchart, ‘“You Just Went out and Talked to Them.” An Interview with Maurice Hayes (1927-2017) on the Work of the Northern Ireland Community Relations Commission (1969-1975)’, Etudes Irlandaises, Irish Studies 46, no. 1 (2021): 55–71.

67 Etchart, Community Relations and the Troubles in Northern Ireland, 1969-90. A Policy History.

68 See testimonies in Dawson, Making Peace with the Past?

69 Brendan Lynn, Holding the Ground: The Nationalist Party in Northern Ireland, 1945 - 72 (Aldershot, Hants: Ashgate, 1997).

70 ‘Cabinet Meeting 30 September 1969’, 14.

71 ‘Cabinet Meeting 30 September 1969’, 14.

72 NIHC Deb 30 Sept 1969, Cameron Commission of Inquiry, vol. 74 (Belfast: Hansard, 1969), col. 11.

73 NIHC Deb 30 Sept 1969, Cameron Commission of Inquiry, vol. 74, col. 7.

74 On the issue of citizens' complaints of maladministration, a governmental structure was set up under the Parliamentary Commissioner Act (Northern Ireland) 1969, and then an independent Commissioner as part of the Commissioner for Complaints Act (Northern Ireland) 1969. Besides, two key community relations bodies were created, the Ministry and the Northern Ireland Community Relations Commission (NICRC), both of which implemented community relations policy in various ways until their demise in 1975.

75 NI government, Commentary by the Government of Northern Ireland to Accompany the Cameron Report Incorporating an Account of Progress and a Programme of Action, para. 65.

76 For a comprehensive account of the history of the policy, see: Etchart, Community Relations and the Troubles in Northern Ireland, 1969-90. A Policy History.

77 Government of Ireland and UK government, ‘The Joint Declaration of 15 December 1993 (Downing St. Declaration)’, 1993, Irish Department of Foreign Affairs Website (https://www.dfa.ie).

78 McVeigh, ‘Between Reconciliation and Pacification: The British State and Community Relations in the North of Ireland’; McEvoy, McEvoy, and McConnachie, ‘Reconciliation as a Dirty Word: Conflict, Community Relations and Education in Northern Ireland’; McVeigh, Good Relations in Northern Ireland: Towards a Definition in Law. See also: Christopher McCrudden, ‘Mainstreaming Equality in Northern Ireland 1998-2004: A Review of the Issues Concerning the Operation of the Equality Duty in Section 75 of the Northern Ireland Act 1998’, Section 75 Review (Belfast: Review of the operation of section 75 of the Northern Ireland Act 1998, 2004).

79 UK Government, ‘Northern Ireland Act 1998’, legislation.gov.uk, 1998, sec. 75, https://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1998/47/section/75. Accessed 22 April 2024.

80 Jenson and Papillon referred notably to "the conditions of inclusion – and exclusion – in the community". Jane Jenson and Martin Papillon, The Changing Boundaries of Citizenship: A Review and a Research Agenda (Ottawa: Canadian Policy Research Networks, 2001), 3.

81 Following the 1995 Québec referendum, in which the possibility to become a sovereign nation was narrowly turned down, the federal state entered an era of constitutional uncertainty. See Daniel Juteau, ‘The Citizen Makes an Entrée: Redefining the National Community in Quebec’, Citizenship Studies 6 (2002): 441–458.

82 Jane Jenson, ‘Fated to Live in Interesting Times: Canada’s Changing Citizenship Regimes’, Canadian Journal of Political Science 30, no. 4 (December 1997): 628.

83 Jenson, 628.

84 Jenson, 628.

85 "Full citizenship requires that equal rights and opportunities should not only be not denied by the law but that the law should be able to protect those rights" in NIHC Deb 8 Feb 1966, Second Reading of Human Rights Bill, vol. 62, col. 686.

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References

Electronic reference

Joana Etchart, “When Citizens’ Grievances Entered the Policy Agenda, 1963-1969”Revue Française de Civilisation Britannique [Online], XXIX-2 | 2024, Online since 10 May 2024, connection on 18 June 2024. URL: http://journals.openedition.org/rfcb/11860

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About the author

Joana Etchart

Research group ALTER
Université de Pau et des Pays de l’Adour

Joana Etchart is a Senior Lecturer in Irish and British Studies at the University of Pau. She formerly taught at the Paris Sorbonne. She takes part in French societies promoting Irish Studies (SOFEIR and G.I.S. EIRE). She has specialised in the analysis of the history of community relations policy during the Troubles in Northern Ireland (1969-1990) and of the community’s response and adhesion to it.

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The text only may be used under licence CC BY-NC-ND 4.0. All other elements (illustrations, imported files) are “All rights reserved”, unless otherwise stated.

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